Latest updates

Transaction price mechanisms in times of COVID-19
Schoenherr
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Austria
  • 12 August 2020

In times like these, parties should consider the key parameters of a contemplated transaction even more carefully. In addition to factors such as pricing, process timelines and contractual undertakings, parties must properly consider the COVID-19 pandemic's potential economic effects on targets when structuring a deal. This article outlines the differences between the two main purchase price mechanisms that can help to alleviate such economic effects and the pros and cons of each.

COVID-19 Phase 2 and environmental procedural law
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 06 July 2020

Section 3 of the Administrative COVID-19 Accompanying Law adapts the requirements for official acts and public communication with authorities to reflect the restricted freedom of movement and contact. This article examines how the revised version of Section 3 affects environmental law procedures (eg, water, environmental impact assessment, waste, construction and conservation).

Consultations on TAR NC and second amendment to Gas System Charges Ordinance
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 22 June 2020

EU Regulation 2017/460 established a network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures (TAR NC). On 31 January 2019 E-Control – Austria's national regulatory authority – published its consultation document on the implementation of the TAR NC in Austria. This article discusses the subsequent developments.

Third COVID-19 Act: lawfulness of processing employee health data
Schoenherr
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Austria
  • 08 May 2020

Parliament recently enacted the Third, Fourth and Fifth COVID-19 Acts. Although these laws have significantly changed the Austrian legal framework, none of them include data protection provisions. Thus, the legislature appears to have overlooked a significant data protection issue arising from the new law – namely, the conflict of interests between the amended Social Insurance Act and the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Implications of COVID-19 for legal procedures under Austrian Environmental Law
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 04 May 2020

In the context of local and personal COVID-19 quarantine measures – and the associated absences of officials and affected persons – a federal law (COVID-19-VwBG) was passed setting out special procedural regulations for administrative authorities, administrative courts, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court. This article discusses the implications for the legal procedures set out in the Environmental Law resulting from the new temporary COVID-19-VwBG.

COVID-19: telecoms and data protection developments
Schoenherr
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Austria
  • 01 May 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telecoms providers must now send mass alerts (eg, regional access prohibitions) via text message on order of the government and provide traffic and location data for the purposes of evaluating whether individuals are complying with quarantine orders. In addition, a number of legislative developments have taken place with respect to data protection. This article outlines these recent changes.

New government programme sets course for expansion of renewable energies
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 24 February 2020

The new government composed of the Austrian People's Party and the Green Party recently presented the government programme for 2020 to 2024, which contains comprehensive measures to promote the expansion of renewable energies. Accordingly, the Renewable Energies Expansion Act, which has been planned for a long time and was drawn up under the penultimate government, is to be enacted as quickly as possible.

New opportunities for renewable energy: Austrian government programme 2020 to 2024
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 24 February 2020

Austria's new coalition government consisting of the People's Party and the Green Party recently published its programme for the legislative period 2020 to 2024. The programme is called Taking Responsibility for Austria and should make Austria a pioneer in climate protection. The Paris Agreement climate targets are to be met at all costs, while the Climate Protection Act should ensure that Austria does not exceed its CO2 budget.

Judicial authorisation of transfer of shares with restricted transferability
Schoenherr
  • Corporate & Commercial
  • Austria
  • 17 February 2020

The Supreme Court recently dealt, for the first time, with the judicial authorisation of a transfer of shares with restricted transferability in joint stock companies. The court's legal reasoning will be of great interest, especially for parties undertaking transactions where only a block of shares is sold and a transfer restriction is included in the articles of association, as is often the case in Austria.

Response to ECJ decision on measuring air pollutants
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 03 February 2020

Following a European Court of Justice decision concerning the air quality measurement criteria set out in the EU Air Quality Directive, individuals in affected areas and non-governmental organisations can now take direct action in Austria against wrongfully installed air quality measuring points. The Austrian Higher Administrative Court recently addressed this matter and explained how those concerned in Austria should proceed.

Supreme Court rules on distribution network operators' obligation to connect
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 23 December 2019

The Supreme Court recently considered whether distribution network operators must provide network users with a written cost estimate for a grid connection even if the general obligation to connect final customers to the grid is still in dispute and has yet to be decided by the competent authority. The case has clarified whether a network operator's obligation to provide a cost estimate presupposes that its connection obligation is undisputed or has already been legally established.

Article 15(3) of GDPR and right to access files or documents – an Austrian perspective
Schoenherr
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Austria
  • 20 December 2019

With the adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the EU legislature intended to strengthen the rights of individuals (ie, data subjects or applicants) by giving them greater control over how their personal data is used. Applicants must be informed of the processing of their personal data and be able to verify whether such processing is lawful. Accessing documents is not necessary to achieve that goal. This view is supported by two recent Austrian decisions.

Court rules that electric filling station is not an electricity company
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 04 November 2019

The Higher Administrative Court recently found that the operation of an electric filling station does not constitute the operation of an electricity company and is thus subject to Trade Act. Prior to this decision, the question of whether the act applies to such stations was unclear, as there was no relevant case law and the legal literature was divergent.

Flexibility and Storage Market Report 2019
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 23 September 2019

The information assessed when preparing the latest Flexibility and Storage Market Report on the Austrian gas market suggests that the current competitive situation does not require regulated access to storage facilities. The sufficient availability of storage capacity, customer-oriented product development, market-oriented price formation and offered quantities form a market characterised by competitive pressure.

Say on pay and related party transactions: implementation of EU Shareholder Rights Directive II
  • Corporate & Commercial
  • Austria
  • 03 June 2019

With the deadline for implementing the EU Shareholder Rights Directive II (SRD II) fast approaching, the government recently published a ministerial draft of the Stock Corporation Amendment Act 2019, which addresses the rules on say on pay and related party transactions. The draft seeks to minimise the administrative burden on listed companies by avoiding any 'gold plating'. Further, it closely follows SRD II and takes advantage of business-friendly options.

Supreme Court facilitates financing companies with cross-border business
Schoenherr
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Austria
  • 15 May 2019

For the first time, the Supreme Court has upheld a security right granted under German law, even though the asset had been transferred to Austria. Previously, such rights were terminated once the asset was moved from Germany to Austria. The decision will substantially facilitate the financing of companies with cross-border business.

Amendments bring overall relief to system charges
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 06 May 2019

The Austrian regulatory authority E-Control is responsible for ensuring an equal energy market and a fair market price. Each year E-Control reviews and defines the system charges for the use of electricity and gas networks on all network levels. The System Charges Ordinance 2019 and the Gas System Charges Ordinance 2019 bring further relief to system charges.

Consultation on implementation of network code on harmonised transmission tariffs
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 29 April 2019

The national regulatory authority E-Control recently published its consultation document on the implementation of the network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures in Austria. The document is structured in line with the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators consultation template. However, it appears that E-Control paid little attention to maximum transparency and traceability when setting transmission tariffs.

New unified cancellation right for insurance contracts brings legal certainty
Schoenherr
  • Insurance
  • Austria
  • 26 March 2019

Until 2018, Austria had up to five different cancellation rights for insurance policyholders, plus the cancellation right pursuant to Section 8 of the Distance Financial Services Act. Thus, the legal situation was confusing. However, this has finally changed. Since 1 January 2019, a new Section 5c of the Insurance Contract Act provides for one unified cancellation right.

Electric vehicles exempt from emissions-reducing speed limits
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 18 March 2019

The Constitutional Court recently dealt with a complaint by an electric vehicle owner who had exceeded an Air Immission Protection Act speed limit. The driver claimed that his vehicle emitted no air pollutants and that the emission-dependent speed limit did not apply to him. The court disagreed. In response to this decision, the federal government created a legal exception for electric cars. However, whether all federal states will introduce an exception to the act's speed limit for electric cars remains unclear.